What are common Black Friday online scams?

Black Friday online scams are likely to rise as England enters into a four week lockdown period until 2nd December. Black Friday weekend is a popular time for fraudsters to target consumers, and there are a range of common Black Friday scams that appear year after year.

5 Signs of Online Black Friday Fraud

Whilst Black Friday in previous years meant many people were out shopping for potential gifts at discounted prices, on 27th November this year the majority of the country will be looking out for the best online deals. As a result, the prevalence of Black Friday online scams is expected to rise. Here are some examples of online Black Friday scams:

1. Phishing Emails

Phishing scams target the consumer’s emails and are one of the most common types of banking fraud. Black Friday weekend sees a dramatic influx in online shopping, so this is a prime time for fraudsters to use phishing scams disguised as promotions, tracking orders, purchase orders or receipts.

The consumer will receive a very realistic looking email that looks like it’s from a legitimate online retailer. Although the email will seemingly be from a legitimate company, it’s common for the email address of the sender to actually depict a jumble of letters and numbers.

In many cases, fraudsters will send confirmation emails for items that the consumer didn’t order. The email may feature a dangerous link to cancel or update the order. Or, the email will ask the consumer to update their personal and payment information by clicking on a link. Fraudsters may use this information to access other accounts and to commit identity theft.

2. Untrustworthy websites

Black Friday online scams often begin with an untrustworthy website falsely advertising the products that they ‘sell’. Individuals who purchase ‘items’ from these websites are unlikely to ever receive them.

A website without a closed padlock symbol on the left side of the URL is considered unsafe. Likewise, a URL that begins with HTTP rather than HTTPS is also considered unsafe. Unsafe retail sites like these are more likely to be a front for Black Friday fraud.

The spelling and grammar across an untrustworthy website is another common sign of a Black Friday scam. Often, these websites will have one or two letters changed in the URL so that, at a glance, it’s difficult to recognise the website as fake. For example: http://stpaumschambers.com instead of https://www.stpaulschambers.com. Here, the fictional scam website has changed the letter ‘L’ to the letter ‘M’ in the URL which many people wouldn’t notice when purchasing an item.

3. Unreliable website reviews

Although positive reviews on a website usually appear genuine, this is not always the case. Often, fraudsters intentionally leave multiple positive reviews of the products they are ‘selling’ to make potential customers believe the items are real. The reviews tend to follow a template where one or two words are changed.

Another time when Black Friday fraud can occur is when consumers are checking out their basket. They may receive a message claiming that, if they leave a positive review, they can have a further discount taken off their items. In turn, ‘real’ reviews are left before the item has even been purchased.

4. Extreme discounts

Discounts that are too good to be true are probably just that. Black Friday is the perfect weekend for fraudsters to advertise extreme discounts on products that are not legitimate or do not exist. For example, this may be an item with a high retail value that is being offered at a significantly lower price point.

5. Banking fraud

With the focus of this year’s Black Friday being online, online banking scams are bound to occur. Banking fraud can occur by clicking on links in unidentified emails and entering your personal and banking information. Likewise, card details can be stolen in public places if public Wi-Fi is used to purchase an item, or if a fraudster listens to any calls where card details are shared.

Black Friday Scams UK

Barclays conducted a report in 2019 on Black Friday scams the UK, whereby victims of Black Friday scams lost on average £661 each. In the last five years, one in four millennials have fallen victim to Black Friday online scams after being lured in by the promise of headphones, laptops and tablets, mobile phones and TVs at discounted prices; only to later realise the extent of the scam.

What To Do If You’re a Victim of Black Friday Fraud?

If you have fallen victim to a Black Friday scam in the UK, contact your bank immediately to begin the refund process. In this time, your bank account may be frozen to prevent any further fraudulent transactions from being taken. You should also report the Black Friday fraud to Action Fraud.

If you have been accused of online Black Friday fraud, St Pauls Chambers fraud barristers can help. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch or, for more advice, please read our other blog posts.

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